I’m not saying for a moment that mobile phones have made a huge impact on our lives.
But they bloody have. They’re everywhere. And you can’t not check them for messages or notifications. You can’t not look at Facebook or Instagram or any of the other gazillion apps that are all owned by Facebook (and all proudly tell you that when you open them up). You film everything, take pictures of anything that moves.
The phone has taken over.
We see it a lot at work. One of the rules of the escape room is that you can’t use your phones. Ideally, we’d like people to just put them down, completely. Leave them alone. It’s just an hour. You don’t need to check it for texts or whatever. Just leave it. You don’t need to snapchat your entire experience. Just enjoy the room and then you can get straight onto your phone when you leave. It’ll be okay.
One of my favourite moments in our rooms is one in which you’re asked to do some semaphore. Using flags, you get to signal to a team-mate who can then spell out a word and open a lock. It’s a brilliant little thing, it ticks all the team-building boxes. It’s awesome. It’s very rarely done correctly first time, either, which adds to the fun.
But then you get people who want to take a photo of the moves they need to do.
“Aww man, if we could use our phones we could take a picture, innit…” they say. Or something to that effect.
But instead they go back to waving the flags around and trying to get a word, each guessed letter written down with the pen we have provided on the paper we have also provided.
This is my hypothesis. People today are so fixated on what their phones can do, they’ve forgotten that before phones there were other ways of doing things. Instead of taking a picture, say, of five stick figures holding flags with their arms in certain patterns, you could… I don’t know… draw it using the pen and paper we’ve given you.
When the room first started, we used to hate it if anyone drew the pictures because it wasn’t in the spirit of the thing. But now it’s become more of a rite of passage for a team. If they can work out that in not being able to photograph something they would clearly have snapped as soon as look at it in the the real world, they could instead quickly sketch it then we think they’ll stand a chance.
If they spend ten minutes waving a flag around shouting, “this one’s over my minge…” (true story) then not so much.
The room also contains a land line phone.
People often don’t know how to use it. And it’s not even a rotary one. You just pick the handset up and press the buttons…
… The world is doomed.